Megan McArdle on WikiLeaks

That libertarian amazon over at The Atlantic has stolen my heart for the umpteenth time.  Though a strong advocate of transparency, McArdle recognizes the lunacy of Julian Assange’s ideology for what it is and takes the words right out of my mouth.

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2 Responses to Megan McArdle on WikiLeaks

  1. Nils Molina says:

    Megan McArdle begins by diagnosing Julian Assange with a psychiatric disorder where people think their actions have “no downside.” To the contrary, Assange has directly acknowledged that some of his leaks can cause “collateral damage,” has tried to minimize the harm caused by his leaks, and has asked the Pentagon to help him reduce the damage some of his leaks would cause to innocent people. Futher, vehement supporters of WikiLeaks like Glenn Greenwald have no problem admitting that WikiLeaks has occasionally gone to far or not filtered enough. This is probably enough nonsense for most reasonable people to stop reading.

  2. Nils Molina says:

    There’s more nonsense like seeming to imply WikiLeaks isn’t interested in exposing Chinese corruption. (The headline is also exaggerated, by the way: Assange absolutely does not want “no more secrets.”)

    Well, the article eventually does state an argument: “forcing the US military and the State Department to become more secretive might well hamper their effectiveness. But it seems most likely to hamper their effectiveness at things like nation-building and community outreach, where you need a broad, decentralized effort. I don’t see why they’d be much less effective at launching drone attacks.”

    The leaks are not intended to make the government more secretive. The leaks are intended to make the government keep fewer secrets. There is a bit of sensitive information (e.g. names of informants) that the government should keep secret to protect individuals, but if you look at >99% of what has been leaked, it doesn’t fit that criterion. That stuff is what Assange wants to permanently remove from the curtain of secrecy. The sharply reduced secrecy would severely inhibit the ability of the government to for example kill innocent people with those drones Megan references. It wouldn’t sharply inhibit the government from nation-building (public, accurate field reports with occasional private information blacked out don’t hurt anyone), as long as the methods the government uses when “nation-building” have public support.

    The people who publish the leaks (e.g. New York Times, WikiLeaks) generally think the leaks are justified. That’s partially because they’ve actually looked at them and have a realistic picture of what they expose.

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